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Revealing recorded conversations form part of prosecution's case in Skelos trial

Karen Dewitt
WRVO News file photo
Sen. Dean Skelos is on federal trial for corruption in Manhattan along with his son, Adam Skelos.

Audio recordings released by the U.S. attorney’s office at the corruption trial of Sen. Dean Skelos aim to show that the former Senate leader and his son colluded to use Dean Skelos' official position to help his son get employment, in what turned out to be a succession of no-show jobs. But the phone recordings paint a revealing picture about how Albany really works behind the scenes.

The recordings, done by a federal wiretap, show Dean Skelos, 67, tried to get employment and potential contacts for his son, Adam Skelos, 33. In one recorded conversation, Dean Skelos tells his son that he’s meeting with some “billionaires” including some associated with a pro-charter school group,  and former CNN reporter-turned-advocate Campbell Brown.

“Dad, you’ve got to take these names down for me,” Adam Skelos tells his father.

“I got ‘em all,” Dean Skelos assures his son.

Skelos and his son were also recorded discussing their disappointment last December, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to ban hydrofracking in New York. Federal prosecutors allege that Dean Skelos tried to pressure Cuomo’s health department to skew proposed regulations on hydrofracking to a company that Adam Skelos worked for. Adam Skelos obtained the job with the environmental company Abtech, because it was affiliated with a real estate company, Glenwood Management. Glenwood was lobbying Dean Skelos on laws concerning taxes and other issues.

In documents released by the U.S. attorney’s office, emails showed that Dean Skelos in turn lobbied an official at Glenwood Management company, Charles Dorego, to hire his son. In the recorded phone call, both Skelos express their dismay over Cuomo’s decision not to frack.

“I just heard, I tried to get you,” the elder Skelos begins.

“Aaaaugh! This day sucks,” Adam Skelos exclaims.

“It does. It does,” Dean Skelos answers.

Skelos assures his son that they will focus on “that other thing now”.  And Skelos, growing angrier, vows to retaliate.

“I’m going to run against him,” Dean Skelos declares.

Any possible campaign that Dean Skelos might have planned to run for governor has now been put on hold by the corruption trial.

Son Adam at times appears to serve as his father’s informal political advisor, as in this conversation , also recorded in late 2014,  where the two discuss the continued alliance between the Republicans , who had just won a slim majority of the seats in the chamber, and a small group of  independent Democrats led by Sen. Jeff Klein.

“Why would you do that?” Adam Skelos asks his father.

“Because, Adam I have to think about the next election,” Sen. Skelos answers.

“And in the next election, he’s going to say ‘go f yourself’,” Adam Skelos says.

Adam goes on to chide his father for giving the independent democrats a title in the ruling coalition. His father answers that he, as Senate leader, will be “controlling everything”, and that elevating Klein over the rest of the Senate Democrats, who form their own faction, furthers the GOP’s goals to keep power.

“You’ve got to keep them separated,” Dean Skelos said. “Fighting and hating each other. And that’s what’s worked for us for the last six years. Is keeping them at each other’s throats.”  

A spokeswoman for the Independent Democrats says , in a statement, “We cannot speculate on the motives of Senator Skelos,” and points out that the two groups passed gun control legislation, gay marriage and expansion of pre-kindergarten when they co-led the Senate.

The defense has not yet presented its case, and Skelos lawyers’ say they will show that the senator did nothing illegal. Skelos himself, one day after he was indicted last spring, said at the Capitol that he hasn’t done anything wrong.

“If you’re innocent, there’s nothing you have to run away from or hide from, Skelos said on May 3. “Our conference believes that I’m innocent. I know that I’m innocent.”

Seklso did step down from his post as majority leader, but he remains a state senator.  His trial continues Monday.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.